The Compassionate Life Matthew 22:34-46

UCC Higher Education Sunday

Dear Christ, our Teacher,

Instruct us, we pray. The world teaches us to compete for the right answer. The world teaches us to be better, faster, stronger. The world teaches us that bigger is better. The world teaches us to put the pedal to the metal. The world teaches us to live fast and die young. The world teaches us to go big or go home. The world teaches us to work harder and smarter. The world teaches us to put our nose to the grindstone. The world teaches us to work hard and play hard. The world teaches us that the world is our oyster. The world teaches us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. The world teaches us to put on our stiff upper lip. The world teaches us no pain, no gain.

Instruct us, Teacher Christ. Silence all those other voices so we can hear your teaching. So simple, it can be shared in just a few words. So sophisticated, it can be shared in just a few words. So sophisticated, it can take a lifetime to master. So that one day, we can live what we are taught and love our God with all our heart and mind and soul and our neighbor as our self. Amen.

Today is UCC Higher Education Sunday. There are 48 educational institutions related to the United Church of Christ, including academies, colleges, universities, and seminaries. They span the United States. Each is independent, self-governing, and fully accredited…These institutions provide opportunities to explore moral values, the importance of social responsibility, an ethic of service, and the ability to think critically. Many have campus ministries that are ecumenical and interfaith. Each embodies the UCC ethos where God is Still Speaking…Find our more at

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The Definitions of Interim Pastors Within the UCC

A Look at The Interim Pastorate

As St. John’s begins a new chapter with Reverend Katherine Beckett as our interim pastor, curiosity piqued about interim pastorates and the roles interim pastors play within the life of UCC congregations. The following questions were explored with Pastor Katherine and, we thank her for taking the time to answer in detail the questions presented in this article.

What is the role of an Interim Pastor as defined within the UCC?

In the United Church of Christ, interim ministry is the ministry provided to a local church or other ministry setting during a pastoral vacancy. Interim ministers are ordained pastors with special training and experience to minister to the needs and challenges of the time between pastors. They fulfill the usual pastoral duties of preaching, teaching, calling, and administering the sacraments. They also help the church explore and reclaim its past and sort out and understand feelings. They help the church discover its mission before the church prepares a profile to use in the search process for a pastor. 

Because the interim is time-limited (usually 12 to 14 months) church members are usually willing to experience various forms of leadership and to risk changes because they won’t be committed forever. Because the interim minister is not available as a candidate for the settled position, she or he can help the congregation examine the role of pastor and discover what attributes are really needed or desired. (provided by Parish Life and Leadership of Local Church Ministries Team from the National setting.)

What training is necessary to be an interim? How does the training differ from a “called” pastor?

There is no required training for interims beyond what is required to be an authorized minister. However, there are training opportunities available for those who want more specialized training. The Heartland Conference of the UCC and the Ohio Region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ have a joint Interim Ministry Network that, among other things, co-sponsors basic interim training, usually every other year. This training is designed to prepare leaders to help congregations make the most of the time between the departure of one pastor and the calling of another.

There also is the Interim Ministry Network (IMN). IMN is an ecumenical organization that works to strengthen the spiritual and organizational health of faith communities by equipping and supporting those who lead during times of transition. As a result of this work, faith communities are stronger because they have effectively managed transition and are better able to share with their members and society God’s love that brings hope and joy in times of change. (from IMN website)

I have been through both the Ohio Interim Ministry Network’s training and IMNs training.

What types of continuing education courses are required for an interim? How often do interims participate in continuing education courses?

In the UCC, ministers are not required to participate in continuing education. However, there are continuing education courses and workshops available in all areas of ministry, including interim ministry. The Ohio Interim Ministry Network usually offers at least one or two continuing education opportunities a year and IMN offers several opportunities as well.

The opportunities offered by these two organizations address some of the issues unique to interim ministry.

Are there specific backgrounds in certain fields which are helpful to interims? For example, counseling, teaching, human relations?

It depends. Each church is different. I have found that my background in grief care has been especially helpful in interim ministry. My prior career as a probate paralegal involved a significant amount of grief care. I also have a MA in Counseling Ministries and 4 ½ units of Clinical Pastoral Education which was done in a hospital in Columbus. Both of these have proven very helpful in interim ministry.  Conflict management is another area that is helpful.

What are the expectations of an interim in a church setting? (For example, what is the role of an interim pastor within a congregational setting?) Is the protocol usually listed in the Covenant between the pastor, congregation, and Association?

The interim pastor fulfills the usual pastoral duties, i.e. preaching, teaching, administering sacraments, pastoral care. The expectation of the church is to work with the interim on the focal points of interim ministry which are:

Working on these focal points helps the congregation in writing their profile.

These expectations are listed in the Covenant between the pastor, congregation, and Association.

HERITAGE–Reviewing how the congregation has been shaped and formed.

LEADERSHIP–Reviewing the member needs and its ways of organizing and developing new and effective leadership

MISSION–Defining and redefining sense of purpose and direction

CONNECTIONS–Discovering all the relationships a faith community builds outside of itself

FUTURE–Developing congregational and pastoral profiles

Are there specific boundaries required of an interim as opposed to a “called” pastor?

Interims have the same boundaries as settled pastors.

What are the different types of interims, and how do their roles differ?

Interim Minister is a called position for a temporary term of congregational preparation for a settled pastor search, in which the minister does not typically move church membership to the congregation served or move standing to the related association.

There are three basic types of interim ministers:

  1.  Interim Minister or Transitioning Pastor: an interim pastor who fulfills the pastoral role and who also facilitates intentional transitional work with the congregation preparing for a settled pastorate.
  2. Professional Interim or Transition Ministry Specialist: an interim pastor whose career consists predominantly of such settings; may have specializations such as head-of-staff, after-pastor, or conflict facilitation.
  3. Transitional Consultant: a resource person who facilitates intentional transitional work with the congregation while the congregation is served by a different pastor; may bring specialization such as seamless transition, pastoral succession, or other skills.

There is also a Designated-term Pastor which is a called position for a designated time period for a defined purpose, in which the pastor may move church membership to the congregation served and may move standing to the related association.

Types of Designated-term Pastor:

What are the time limits for an interim to serve in a congregation? Can the time be extended if a “called” pastor is not found within a designated time limit?

  1. Revitalization or Turnaround Pastor: a designated-term pastor who is called for a specific time period and for a specific purpose: the revitalization of the congregation; after the initial designated term, the pastor is potentially eligible for the settled pastor position.
  2. Hospice or Legacy Pastor: a designated-term pastor who is called for a specific time period and for a specific purpose: the closure tasks of a congregation.
  3. Redevelopment or Repositioning Pastor: a designated-term pastor who is called for a specific time period and for a specific purpose: the creation of an identified new ministry within or alongside a current congregation; after the initial designated term, the pastor is potentially eligible for the settled pastor position.
  4. New Church Start Pastor: a designated-term pastor who is called for a specific time period and for a specific purpose: the gathering of a new church; after the initial designated term, the pastor is potentially eligible for the settled pastor position
  5. Other: a designated-term pastor who is called for a specific time period and for a specific purpose: such as merger, relocation, reunification, cultural reassessment, staff transition, selling a building, or healing a crisis; may be eligible for the settled position or for a renewed designated position.

(Developed by the Ministerial Excellence, Support &Authorization (MESA)Ministry Team with judicatory staff. 12/1/2014)

An interim can be called for any period of time. Typically, the initial call is for one year.  The interim covenant can be extended beyond that first year, if needed.

What specific interims may elect to become a regular pastor for a congregation when the search committee invites the interim to be their “called” pastor?

Interims cannot become the “called” pastor at the church where they are an interim. Designated pastors can.

Are many interims second career pastors having been in other careers prior to entering the interim ministry? Are most interims nudged by an internal spiritual call, rather than consciously choosing to be an interim?

I don’t have any specific statistics on either question. I know interims who became interims going the route of high school, college, seminary, so are in their mid-twenties when they start interim ministry. I also know interims (like me) who are second career ministers. A minister’s life experiences are helpful in interim ministry, so being a bit more seasoned is helpful. Some ministers go into interim ministry after they retire.

There is a greater need for interim ministers than there are trained interims.

I have been nudged by the Spirit into interim ministry. I originally felt called to chaplaincy but as I progressed through my clinical work and employment at a hospital, I didn’t feel that was the right call for me. I was working on a call as a missionary – which takes considerable time – and a church in my association was in need of an interim. At the Association meeting, one of their deacons was asking around for someone to at least do pulpit supply for Advent and Christmas. I offered as I knew the missionary position would not be worked out before the end of the year. My missionary position fell through and I ended up staying at that church as their interim for 13 months. When that term was finished, I was offered another interim, and another. after that.

October 2020

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Neighbors in Need Offering Sunday, October 4, 2020

St. John’s UCC will collect the special offering for Neighbors in Need (NIN) on Sunday, October 4, which is also World Communion Sunday.  This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.

Neighbors in Need, a special offering of the United Church of Christ, supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States.  One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM).  Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC’s Justice and Witness  ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants.

Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities.  These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice.  This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.



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Protocol for Re-Opening at St. John’s UCC

For the safety of us all, please note the following items when attending worship at St. John’s UCC:

–Masks will be required.

–The deacons will assist in seating everyone and release those in attendance at the conclusion of the worship service.

–Every other pew will be open.  We ask that social distancing be observed.  Families will be able to sit together.

–The offering plate will not be passed during the worship service; however, there will be a plate at the back of the church for your offering(s).

–Bulletins will be available to you when you enter the sanctuary, but the Deacons will not be handing them to you.

At this point in time we will not have Sunday school classes.

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Interim Pastor Named

The Reverend Katherine Beckett has been hired as full-time interim minister to serve St. John’s UCC for one year.  Reverend Beckett comes to us from Rockford, Ohio, and will be moving to the Bluffton community within a week or two.

We welcome her to St. John’s UCC and are looking forward to her time with us.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Sunday, October 25:  In-house worship at 10:30 a.m.  Reverend Beckett’s sermon title is Too Few Laborers.  Scriptures are Romans 5:1-11 and Matthew 9:35-38.  We will celebrate Harvest Home during the worship service.

Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle will serve as song leader.  Masks remain on.  Singing by the congregants is optional.

Tuesday, October 27:  TOPS meets at 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 28:  Men’s breakfast at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.;

Future Dates to Remember

Sunday, November 1:  Totenfest (All Saints’ Sunday)

Sunday, November 8:  Annual Meeting after worship


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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  September 22, 2020,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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